Brands, sponsorships and non-endemic engagement in esports; these are three of the hottest topics in the industry right now.
Mercedes, BMW and Audi recently threw in their hats for long term partnerships across the space whilst T-Mobile linked up with Riot and Cloud9. With the formalisation of franchising across League of Legends and Overwatch combined with ever increasing investments and acquisitions by traditional sport teams, the industry needs to mature and professionalise to be able to hit brand expectations and create intuitive activations with fans which will soon become the lifeblood of the industry.
But what’s next for brand entry in esports? How can esports organisations better approach and understand what brands prioritise? Why aren’t there more household names in the industry? These questions define the waters in which esports swims and could potentially struggle against if the right approach isn’t taken.
The Esports Roundtable Podcast (ERT), hosted by Joe Hills, the Founder of Looking for Group. ERT is a B2B podcast focused around discussing the past, present and future of all things business in esports.
For Episode 7 of the Roundtable, Joe was joined by Imari Oliver, Founder and CEO of Bond + Play who shed some light on the current brands vs esports landscape. Before founding Bond & Play, Imari led sales and global partnerships for Esports at WME | IMG. There, he partnered with brands to design esports strategies and roadmaps.
You can listen to the full podcast below:-
Over the course of the 40 minute chat, Joe and Imari covered the following four major talking points; what esports orgs can learn to better approach brands, what brands can learn from esports in communicating with their audience, where are the biggest areas for collaboration moving forward and what are the next big industries that brands will enter from.
Teams need to take a deeper dive into what brands bring to the table in a humble and professional way which ensures that the brand’s public image is “in a safe pair of hands” according to Imari. The discussion moved on to laying out how the industry could better communicate the passion and engagement of esports fans: “Brands are missing on a truly dedicated audience…using ESL One in New York as an example…fans are hooked to the main screen for eight hours a day. No one is looking at their mobile devices, everyone is super focused on the action on screen,” stated Imari.
With six episodes in the library prior to this, we asked Joe why he decided to start the podcast. He told ESI: “I found myself having these fascinating chats with clients and candidates around their experiences in, and views on the industry and just knew that everyone could benefit from the transparency I was getting.
“The more organisations and professionals in the space that start thinking collaboratively rather than selfishly pursuing their slice of the pie the better it will develop and reach its potential.”
He continued: “I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I know everything in the space and having a humble and structure chat with experts is always eye-opening. We aim to keep it casual and entertaining as well which is a bonus!”
A lot of esports content can tend to only dwell at the surface level with many podcasts only addressing the games and players at a casual level. The Roundtable represents the business alternative where esports professionals, curious non-endemics and hardcore fans alike can learn more from the transparent conversations around key topics in the space.
Previous guests include LoL performance trainer Weldon Green (G2, CLG, TSM), Rob Black, COO of ESL UK, Federico Winer, Head of Entertainment Industries for SAP, Andre Flackel from Lagardere Sport and Simon Bennett, formerly Director of Partnerships for FACEIT.
The Esports Roundtable Podcast is available every Wednesday on iTunes and Audioboom.
You can also catch Hills moderating the panel session at our next ESI Forum event at Fnatic’s Bunkr on October 26th. Up for discussion will be sponsorship in esports; why, what and how, and will see Hills quizzing the likes of Fnatic, HyperX and DBLTAP on their thoughts and views.